It’s that time of year again.

It’s that time of year again.

We were fortunate to be able to visit a family friend on a recent trip to Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately we brought home an unwanted souvenir, a cold.   It was nothing serious, but the boys did have an annoying tickle that seemed to present itself in their throat in such a way that none of us got much sleep.

IMG_8197 (2)After posting honey recipes to our facebook page last month, I decided to give making honey cough drops a go.  After all, I’d almost made them on accident several times while cooking with honey. I snagged a jar of our Lemon Zest and Ginger Root Infused honey.  I’d read that lemon oil is good for coughs as it’s anti-inflammatory, high in vitamin C, and is antibacterial, and that ginger can relieve a sort throat, so it seemed only natural to make my cough drops from our Lemon and Ginger Honey (pictured above)  I used 9 oz of lemon ginger honey, and simply cooked it until it reached 300*F on a candy thermometer.  I wanted to make sure that it got to the proper temperature, so I left it on the heat for a bit after it reached 300*.  This was almost a terrible mistake, as honey can go from hot to scorched in a matter of seconds.  I got the first whiff of the honey getting too hot and immediately poured it into a greased pan I had prepared.  I think if I would have left it go for another couple seconds it would have tasted burnt.  After pouring the honey into the greased pan, I let it cool and attempted to cut it.  As the French would say, “C’est impossible!”img_0547

After being in the freezer for a while, the honey cough drops hardened up and I bent the pan back and forth to break them up.  Then I tossed them in a mixture of powdered sugar and vitamin C powder.  The result is actually quite delicious, as the honey caramelized just a touch, and the lemon and vitamin C powder add just a bit of tang.  These little cough drops also multi-task as filling removers, so chew with caution.img_0568-2

 

Honey Cough Drop Recipe

! 9 oz jar of Bee Lovely Botanicals Lemon Ginger Honey (or 9 oz of your favorite honey)

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vitamin C powder

Heat honey to 300*, being careful not to scorch it.  Pour into greased pan and transfer to freezer until cooled.  Break apart and coat in powdered sugar and vitamin C powder mix.

The Clandestine Keeper

The Clandestine Keeper

“Just sit right here, Butch, and the bees won’t bother you.”  I’d heard this story before.  As my father continues the tale, I imagine my great grandfather, looking somewhat like the old man from the Mountain Dew bottle, leaping in the air and being chased by a cloud of angry bees.  “And sit right there I did.  Grampa was right, the bees didn’t bother me at all.  He ran right past me and the bees chased him all the way down the path, but I didn’t get stung once,” Dad IMG_3629concludes.

This was my first exposure to beekeeping, and never did I imagine myself to be a homesteading, homeschooling mama with a beekeeping business.  The only way that I can expain it is that God is good, and sometimes He sneaks up on
you.

In 2007, while I was pregnant with my second son, we found a swarm of bees living in a hollowed out maple tree.  The entrance to the hive was near the ground and Jaden (my oldest) and I would sit and watch the bees return with their baskets full of colorful pollen.  Later that fall, I read many, many beekeeping books while nursing the baby.  The more I learned about bees, the more intrigued I became.  The following spring we started a great adventure with our first package of bees.

During the next year, my husband, Joshua, was laid off when the local high school cut the ag program he taught.  We also found out we would be welcoming a third son into our family.  This was just the nudge we needed to turn our beekeeping hobby into a sideline business.
I spent many delightfully frustrating hours developing our brand, revising labels and product formulations, and coming up with eye catching displays.  While I worked at this, my husband, a biologist with experience in wildlife and agriculture, delved into natural hive treatments, integrated pest management techniques, bee genetics, and efficient home remedies for bee stings.  Our boys fostered a natural interest in pleasing aesthetics IMG_3611 (2)and the scientific process by watching us and helping us work through these things over time.  As our boys continued to grow and mature, our business did, too.  A clear brand emerged, and our natural beekeeping practices became sound and successful.  Soon, we were able to identify our niche.  The boys learned this intuitively from speaking with customers at farmers markets.  Recognizing our niche helped us to not only identify potential customers, but helped us pin point where to sell and advertise.  Being able to choose profitable venues and advertisements increased our sales and helped our bee business continue to grow and expand.

Throughout the last few years, the boys have worked alongside us in the bee yard.  They suffered the occasional sting for the privilege of doing what Mom and Dad were doing (and a small smackeral of honey now and then).  On the days when the whole family wasn’t going to the farmers market, they debated who should get to wake up at 4:30 AM to go with Dad.  Neighboring vendors supposed the boy that got to go had drawn the short straw, it was actually just the opposite.  They’re so excited and enthusiastic to share what our family has worked on.  They’ve set up our booth, packed up products, and lugged display pieces bigger than they are.  Our customers are always impressed with the boys’ maturity, their work ethic, and their knowledge of honeybees and our products.  Work ethic, maturity, and business knowledge weren’t purposefully taught to our boys, but they were inferred through the many interactions we share working together.

I don’t think we ever would have dreamed this path for our family.  It’s definitely full of mistakes and challenges, but we are so grateful to God for leading us on this adventure.  He provides for our family in such interesting and rewarding ways, and blesses us with the opportunity to spend time working, and playing together.